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Home Page Official Publication of the State Bar of California September2004
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Equalizing bar pass rates

I read with interest State Bar President Anthony Capozzi’s views on increasing diversity in the profession (August). I fully agree that minority representation in the bar should increase. American minorities, in particular African-Americans, get a raw deal in many ways, and having more minority lawyers would contribute to changing that situation.

To those who complain about affirmative action: be aware that (1) it still needs more time to work and (2) statistically, it has a minimal impact on white people. Many people forget the impact of the affirmative action they receive by being discriminated in favor of, which more than offsets other affirmative action efforts.

Some of the statistical comments distract from the matter at hand. Of course California’s national law schools have high pass rates. Their students are on average smarter, worked harder or had better educations for those three years or the 16 prior years, than those at other law schools. You don’t need a task force to figure that out.

The real reason for under-representation in my view lies not in the law schools but in unequal primary and secondary education and in intentional, as well as unintended but persistent, discrimination and prejudice.

If California wants more minority lawyers, as it should, it is critical that the state and federal governments stop diverting funding from schools and from the support services that families need in order for their children to learn, grow and, in some cases, become lawyers. The pass rates will take care of themselves.

Eric W. Sedlak

Race is irrelevant to quality

Being a lawyer does not make one a representative of one’s racial or ethnic group. Instead, a lawyer is a representative of his or her client, whatever their race or ethnicity. President Capozzi points to no racial or ethnic discrimination that would account for the relatively low percentage of California lawyers who are other than non-Hispanic white. Indeed, in connection with law school admissions, there has been much racial/ethnic discrimination — “affirmative action” — against non-Hispanic whites.

The State Bar should not appoint a task force, but should strive to improve the quality of California lawyers, to which quality race and ethnicity are irrelevant.

James Elliott Grindlinger

‘Fair share’ is nonsense

I was fascinated by President Capozzi’s claim that “we strive to achieve racial diversity equal to the population of California.” Capozzi offered no rationale for this goal.

Why should the lawyer population precisely match the state’s demographic profile? It’s of critical importance that no individual be discriminated against in his or her quest to become an attorney. It’s of no importance that each racial or sexual group gets its “fair share” of the lawyers.

Paul Kujawsky
Studio City

Task force a good idea

I applaud the State Bar’s effort to increase diversity in the legal profession. As to some reasons for differences in bar passage rates, I think for some people the issue may be all the other pressures in their lives while they are trying to do well in law school and pass the bar exam.

I was a middle-aged woman with a family and a full-time professional job when I decided to go to law school. My criteria were (1) an ABA-approved law school, (2) with an evening program, and (3) in my home town. That left only one school. I took the Stanley Kaplan LSAT course. The first Saturday of the course, I learned the most important lesson: If you really want to do well you have to give top priority to your studies and focus on them. Forget your family, forget your job, forget everything else. I was able to do this, scored very well on the LSAT, and got into the law school I wanted.

My point is many people have family pressures and job pressures which make it difficult for them to give their law studies the concentration that is necessary to be successful in school and pass the bar exam. I think the State Bar should set up a task force to consider a broad range of factors which may account for differences in bar passage rates.

Ann T. Fathy
San Diego

Give correspondence schools their due

So President Capozzi found it “remarkable” that some California accredited schools had good pass rates on the bar examination. Had Mr. Capozzi read further, he might have even been more surprised. With respect to first-time pass rates, correspondence law schools actually outperformed schools accredited by the California Committee of Bar Examiners on four of the last five bar examinations. In one instance (February 2003), correspondence students were twice as successful (44 percent to 22 percent). Yet Mr. Capozzi’s Commit-tee of Bar Examiners refuses to even consider an application for accreditation from a distance learning school.

If distance learning schools were able to obtain California accreditation, how could many of the traditional California accredited schools justify their tuition levels? The answer is simple — they couldn’t. Lower the cost of entry into the profession and you’ll start to see an increase in diversity.

David L. Boyd
William Howard Taft University
Santa Ana

Manufactured diversity

Why would you want full diversity if it is manufactured at a bureaucratic level? I’m sure you can think of a better use of our resources.

Kyle W. Jones

PC doublespeak

I read with consternation “Attorneys with Disabilities Face Tough Job Market” (August). It represented nothing but more politically correct doublespeak from the thought police. Clearly, these so-called “disabled” people want to have it both ways: they want to collect the benefits available to those who are “disabled,” but they want to simultaneously claim they are able to work. And anyone who tries to point out the inherent contradiction and unfairness of their position is immediately labeled “discriminatory.”

I respectfully suggest that these so-called “disabled” people should simply decide whether they are disabled or not. Either that, or I want to collect disability benefits myself, even though I’m not disabled. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

William F. Crowell
Diamond Springs

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